Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nieters and Buerkle Continue Haymarket Bicycles/SEAVS Domination With Rockburn Cross Victories

Haymarket Bicycles/SEAVS completed its domination of the Howard County Double Cross elite races with two more top finishes at Rockburn Cross, race #9 in the BikeReg.com MABRAcross series. Jared Nieters, Haymarket boss and Verge Sport MABRAcross points leader, took the top spot for the elite men and Patty Buerkle capped off the weekend sweep by winning the women's race.

Race organizer Adventures for the Cure had the Rockburn course dialed in and Mother Nature did her part to deliver another spectacular day for racing and spectating. With the MABRAcross series coming to a close, the Howard County Double Cross served as a make or break weekend. The time to once and for all weed out the pretenders from the contenders.

In the men's elite race Wes Schempf (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) found himself in a familiar position: sandwiched between two Haymarket riders. But instead of having to chase Joe Dombrowski for an hour, it was Haymarket rider Stephen "Steevo" Cummings setting the early pace with teammate and Verge Sport points leader Jared Nieters slotted in behind Schempf. Steevo kept the pace high for the first third of the race before dropping to third as Schempf hit the front. The C3 rider went full out through the technical back section of the Rockburn cross but was unable to drop Nieters who eventually took the lead and the victory. Cummings fought back to second place giving Haymarket another one, two finish.

John Minturn (AXA CRCA) had a strong race to finish third. Pat Blair (Adventures for the Cure) traded in his race organizer cap for a cycling helmet and put in a great effort to finish fourth. Ryan Fawley (Trek Mtn Co-Op) held off the rest of the field to claim the final spot on the podium.

In the women's elite race Patty Buerkle (Haymarket/SEAVS) took the holeshot and never looked back. She opened up a minute and a half lead on the field and coasted to her second win of the weekend and sixth in the series. Even with extra points available at next week's MABRAcross championship, with this win, Buerkle clinched the final Verge Sport points leader jersey. Allyson Tufano (NVRC/Cardio Sports Lab) finished the day with a well-deserved second place. Elizabeth Harlow (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) finished third, Marni Harker (Team Kenda) took the fourth spot and Laura Hanlon (Fuji) slotted into the final podium spot.

More than any other race on the schedule, the masters elite was truly a showdown for the leader jersey. Dave Weaver (ALAN) spent a second straight day at the front of the field taking the victory by 25 seconds over the always strong Blair Saunders (Ben's Performance Bikes). Paul Rades (GamJams), coming back strong after a rib injury at DCCX, held off a pair of heavy hitters to finish third.

The real race, however, was 30 seconds off the lead in fourth and fifth place. Before the weekend, Mike Birner (Ben's Performance Bikes) held a nine point lead over Kris Auer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) in the Verge Sport leader jersey competition. At Schooley Mill, Auer finished third and Birner finished fifth. That gave Auer a one point lead over Birner and the jersey. In other words, whoever crossed the line first between these two riders would wear the jersey going into next week's BikeReg.com MABRAcross finale.

The oft-repeated NASCAR adage "rubbing is racing" is not out of place in many cyclocross races, and never was that more on display than the battle that went down between Birner and Auer. There was contact in the sandpit, contact in the woods. These two were putting on the type of show that the jersey competition was created for. In the end, Birner was able to gain some ground over Auer, crossing the line in fourth place. Auer came across in fifth place knowing he would have to give back the jersey he had captured the day before. With only four points separating Birner and Auer, there is no doubt this battle will resume in Taneytown Sunday at high noon.

In the Masters 55+ race, Randall Root (Evolution) took a sabbatical from the elite masters race with one goal in mind: win the coveted date night from the Intercontinental Harbor Court Baltimore. This is the type of prize that is a bike racer's dream. As cool as it may be, no spouse is impressed by a prize bag that contains a six pack of beer and some new socks. But come through that door with a one-night stay at a five-star hotel and you may be able to race guilt free for an entire year.

Root successfully completed his mission, riding away from the 55+ field and securing the date night prize. Fred Wittwer (ALAN) came in second with Jim Bronson (Patapsco Bike and Sport) not far behind. Those two riders will also battle it out for the leaders jersey at the final race.

Rebecca Frederick (Kelly Benefit Strategies/LSV) put in a weekend’s worth of race organizing but saved just enough energy to win the Cat 3 Women race at Schooley Mill and Rockburn. Matt Carroll (Evolution) topped the Masters 3/4 field and Sean O'Donnell (TOMS Shoes) won the 3/4 event. Andrew Massomnneau (Winchester Wheelmen) won the Men's Cat 4 race and Sarah Crosskey took home first place honors in the Women's Cat 4.

The BikeReg.com MABRAcross series holds its final 2010 race next Sunday. The MABRAcross championship will take place in Taneytown, Md. More information can be found by following the links on the schedule at MABRAcross.org.

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